Local Google reviews can absolutely influence SEO. Customer reviews, both positive and negative, are factored into the complex equation Google uses to determine its local search rankings and, as it turns out, they can help in the general search rankings as well.
Studies have proven both of these statements, and Google has tacitly admitted the connection. We’ll drill down into exactly how local Google reviews can help with SEO and talk about what you can do to use Google reviews to your advantage.
How Do Reviews Factor Into Local SEO?
There are two ways reviews enter into the equation. Firstly, Google includes the text of a business’s reviews when looking for keyword matches on a searched term. Secondly, the number of reviews a company has is considered, with higher volumes of reviews giving the business a boost in search rankings.
Does having keywords in your reviews help ranking?
To understand how this works, imagine if someone were to search for “hamburgers and pizza.” In the local pack portion of Google’s search rankings, where local businesses show up under a map of the area, Google looks for the keywords “hamburgers” and “pizza” in both the text of local restaurants’ websites as well as the text of the local reviews they’ve received under their Google My Business account.
If your restaurant serves hamburgers and pizza, you probably already have those terms in your website copy.
But if you also have customer reviews that say things like, “These guys have the BEST hamburgers!” and “If you visit, make sure to try their Margherita pizza” then you’ll do better in the rankings for those keywords than local restaurants that either don’t have any local Google reviews or didn’t have any featuring those keywords.
Does the number of reviews you have influence ranking?
There are two ways to think about a business’s total review volume and how it gets counted by Google, one direct, and one indirect. Directly, Google considers total review volume in its calculations.
A business that has more local reviews should, on the whole, perform better in search rankings, all other things remaining equal than a company with fewer reviews.
Indirectly, the more reviews a business has, the greater the pool of review text that can be matched against search terms, and the more frequently Google will find a suitable match.
To use a simplified example to explain, imagine if restaurant A has one review, which says:
“I love this place. Their hamburgers are the best around!”
While restaurant B has these three reviews:
“Really good food. They make a mean cheesesteak. Worth the try!”
“I keep coming back. Try a slice of their Margherita pizza. It’s fantastic!”
“Really great, classic hamburgers and french fries. Steak cut fries rule!”
Both restaurants will get a boost when people search for hamburgers. But because restaurant B has more reviews, it has more possible search term matches. It could also get a boost when people search for cheesesteaks, pizza, and french fries.
Frequency of reviews and SEO
Having a consistent stream of reviews coming in every few days is important too. Not only do people prefer reviews that are recent, but it’s a good signal that is sent to Google.
When you have a system in place, like using 2 Step Reviews, you should easily be able to capture a few reviews a week. You don’t want to just reach 50 five-star reviews and call it quits.
Having these reviews continuing to come in is a sign that you’re still in business, and still providing five-star service. This will ultimately lead to earning Google’s, and your potential customer’s trust in your company.
Does responding to your reviews help improve your SEO?
Indeed it does. In fact, we recommend to all of our product users to respond to all reviews no matter what they may say.
This is good advice in general, since responding to reviews shows your positive reviewers that you appreciate their kind words, and it shows your negative reviewers that you care enough about them to try and resolve their issues.
But it’s also a good SEO strategy. For one, Google encourages people to respond to their reviews and rewards businesses that do. But also, like the review itself, the text of your response is included in the total word pool for search term matches. This means you can craft your responses to include useful keywords for SEO.
Of course, you have to be very careful about this. If your responses read like you’re trying to pander to the search engine, you’ll come off as disingenuous to your customers and risk alienating them. Keep your responses heartfelt and genuine, and slip in a search term or two if it works organically.
Reviews help improve organic rankings as well
We know this is true based on a nine-month research study in which a sampling of businesses had Google reviews added into the copy of their websites.
This one tweak, over the full length of the study, caused average organic page views for all the sites to climb from 5,500 a month to 8,000 a month. That’s quite an increase for a single SEO modification.
However, it shouldn’t be surprising that Google considers reviews in this way. The review text merely is added to the entirety of the content on the website, and the more and varied content Google has available to it, the more likely a business will place well for a given search term.
Take Advantage of Local Google Reviews for SEO
To take advantage of this powerful additional SEO tool, you need reviews, and the more, the better.
If you haven’t already claimed your Google My Business account, don’t delay any further. Get it set up.
It’s important to fill it out completely. Google provides excellent information on how to optimize My Business listings here. Don’t leave anything blank. Google rewards complete information.
Once your Google My Business page is set up, there are a few things you should consider adding to your main website to help your review SEO.
For one, place a direct link to your Google page for customers to leave a review on your website. Next, start adding some of the best reviews you get into a “Reviews” or “Testimonials” section on your website. You could also sprinkle them throughout the entire site. This gives Google even more grist for its search algorithm to chew on.
But more than anything, if you want to ramp up the number of reviews on your Google My Business page, you merely need to ask for them. More often than not just asking your customers if they wouldn’t mind leaving you a review is all it takes to motivate them.
Studies have shown that seven out of ten customers say they’d leave a review if asked. Particularly if people like your service they’ll consider it a favor they’re happy to do.
And 2 Step Reviews can help.
Our easy-to-use app automates the process of asking for a review. Just enter your customer’s name, and contact info and the app will reach out for you. We know how to request reviews, and our specific language greatly increases the chances of getting one.
Get started now at www.2stepreviews.com and schedule a free demo today!